Have you noticed that what we planned on New Year’s Eve is already fading away? In fact, I am sure you have seen all sort of advertisements, social media trying to help you “not lose track”, “stay on track”. How a membership or product will help you be successful. And yet, we have every possible tool available to help us stay on track. Calendars, reminders, support groups, books and yet we have a world full of people feeling judgment for themselves, feeling failure.
Have you noticed the new trend of instead of having an intention or resolution for a new year, to set your focus on a word that will describe your year? It’s an interesting concept, and if you know me you know that I believe in focusing on what I want more of! Versus trying to prevent what I don’t want. So this made me reflect on how it could work.
The first thing I noticed is that a word just like a resolution can be forgotten. It can be placed aside for that dessert, that glass of wine. So while I love this looking forward and designing your future with what you want there is still something missing.
So I thought about how do we make it stick?
Make it Stick
I had the pleasure a few years ago to be part of training with Chip Heath where he taught us the message of his book “Made to Stick”. It was quite an experience and well… it stuck! Essentially the process is how to make our ideas stick in the minds of others. How to get people to listen and stay engaged. When reflecting on what sticks with us there are a few key reasons, and his book goes more into that. One major one is that it connects with something in the person. Just think about how advertisers get us to believe that one of our basic human needs can only be reached with their product! We are influenced every day to be engaged, inspired and sold something.
Just think about the last time your kids pleaded with you for something. Remember their cute eyes, how they promised us to clean there room or behave. Or even inspired us on how it would change their life. And yet just prior to that we didn’t believe they needed it. We were adamant that whatever they wanted was unnecessary.
Or the last time your significant other wanted you to go somewhere with them. For me, it is always a superhero action movie. I’m completely convinced that I will be bored. Somehow I still ended up watching Aquaman with my son and my husband last month bored out of my mind. So how did they get me to go to another superhero movie? They gained my buy-in!
Leaning into wisdom
This made me curious, how do I apply this same concept to myself? How do I get myself bought into what I want in such a way that I can’t forget? When faced with a challenge I will choose an option that is in sync with my goals. How can I honor what it is I want for my life, for the person I want to be each day.
On a recent training, I did with Rod Stryker he spoke about the 4 steps to our freedom. The fourth step is to engage in Sangha, The origin of sangha was when a group of disciples of the Buddha renounced their worldly life to listen to the teachings. What this fourth step was to reveal was to look at how often we are leaning into recognizing how often we are chasing some new way of being. To really look at where we are getting our wisdom from. Is it some new fad, new trend? Or are we leaning into an ancient, tried and true wisdom?
So I began to look into my life at what has worked before. What ancient wisdom can be applied here that has already been tested?
And it all became clear…
Where do I already gain clarity and awareness?
As a Yoga Teacher Trainer and Mindfulness Teacher mantras and meditations are something I use daily in my life. Here are just a few of the benefits I have experienced personally and with my clients:
- A place of stillness and reflection that brings clarity and eases my often rushed loud mind
- Invites the opportunity to see options that were not available in the heat of the moment
- A place of deep connection within, a place where I can see the influences of others and personal judgment and allow them to fall away
So how can I apply this to my goals? My intentions? How can I make this word of the year focus stick? The answer was staring me in the face! Make it a mantra!
How do mantras work?
When we teach mantras or use them in our own lives we teach a repetition of 108 times. As a curious person, I first wanted to understand why 108? I found so many answers from Yoga tradition to the similarities with a rosary. Here are some fun places you will find 108 having significance:
- “The mala represents the ecliptic, the path of the sun and moon across the sky. Yogis divide the ecliptic into 27 equal sections called nakshatras, and each of these into four equal sectors called paadas, or “steps,” marking the 108 steps that the sun and moon take through heaven. “ Garuda Venkat
- “The mala of 108 beads also represents Krishna, as the head bead, and His 108 most confidential servants. So you chant on all the beads except the Krishna bead, which you turn the mala around and chant the other ways for another “round” of 108 times of chanting. It can also represent the 108 most important of the Upanishads.” Garuda Venkat
- The distance between the earth and the sun is approximately 108 times the sun’s diameter. The diameter of the sun is about 108 times the earth’s diameter. And the distance between the earth and the moon is 108 times the moon’s diameter. Professor Kak
- According to yogic tradition, there are 108 pithas, or sacred sites, throughout India. And there are also 108 Upanishads and 108 marma points, or sacred places of the body.
- 108 degrees Fahrenheit is also the internal temperature at which the human body’s vital organs begin to fail from overheating.
- An official Major League Baseball baseball has 108 stitches
- In Buddhism, according to Bhante Gunaratana this number is reached by multiplying the senses smell, touch, taste, hearing, sight, and consciousness by whether they are painful, pleasant or neutral, and then again by whether these are internally generated or externally occurring, and yet again by past, present and future, finally we get 108 feelings. 6 × 3 × 2 × 3 = 108.
- Tibetan Buddhist malas or rosaries (Tib. ཕྲེང་བ Wyl. phreng ba, “Trengwa”) are usually 108 beads; sometimes 111 including the guru bead(s), reflecting the words of the Buddha called in Tibetan the Kangyur(Wylie: Bka’-‘gyur) in 108 volumes. Zen priests wear juzu (a ring of prayer beads) around their wrists, which consists of 108 beads.
- Japa mala, or japa beads, made from tulasi wood, consisting of 108 beads plus the head bead.
- The Lankavatara Sutra has a section where the Bodhisattva Mahamati asks Buddha 108 questions and another section where Buddha lists 108 statements of negation in the form of “A statement concerning X is not a statement concerning X.” In a footnote, D.T. Suzuki explains that the Sanskrit word translated as “statement” is pada which can also mean “foot-step” or “a position.” This confusion over the word “pada” explains why some have mistakenly held that the reference to 108 statements in the Lankavatara refer to the 108 steps that many temples have.
- In Japan, at the end of the year, a bell is chimed 108 times in Buddhist temples to finish the old year and welcome the new one. Each ring represents one of 108 earthly temptations (Bonnō) a person must overcome to achieve nirvana.
- The individual numbers 1, 0, and 8 represent one thing, nothing, and everything (infinity). 108 represents the ultimate reality of the universe as being simultaneously one, emptiness, and infinite.
I am safe to step into discomfort, to surrender to my own heart and step into my inner light.
Please share with us your word or what your mantra will be.